COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP 2021)

WHO is issuing the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for 2021 and accompanying documents as a package aimed at guiding the coordinated action that we must take at national, regional, and global levels to overcome the ongoing challenges in the response to COVID-19, address inequities, and plot a course out of the pandemic.

The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan 2021 (SPRP2021) builds on what has been learned about the virus and our collective response over the course of 2020, and translates that knowledge into strategic actions. This plan builds on achievements and also focuses on the new challenges, to mitigate, for example, risks related to new variants. The plan also considers the road we need to travel towards the safe, equitable and effective delivery of diagnostics and vaccines as part of the overall strategy to successfully tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Scale up of healthcare innovations for low- and middle-income countries

A strategic Collaborative Agreement to support the scaling up of healthcare innovations in low- and middle-income countries has been signed between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA). The WHO will link impactful health innovations to the countries that need them most and the IDIA will help to accelerate and deepen our collective impact in tackling the greatest challenges in global health.

The collaboration will focus on five areas including demand for innovation in response to national health needs and global targets, supply of innovations, sharing expertise and tools to support assessment of innovations, scaling up of innovations, and the development of innovation and scaling knowledge and skills among WHO staff, Member States, and development partners.

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Recent Trends in the WHO’s Essential Medicines List

While the number of patented medicines on the EML has increased in recent editions, the portion of the list currently under patent remains a small portion of all drugs on the EML, currently about 10%. A deeper dive into the data shows that many drugs are only patented in a fraction of lower income countries. Thus, 80% of lower income countries have 50 or fewer active patent filings on that ten percent. Moreover, many of these patented drugs are subject to institutionalized programs to provide access at lower cost. This paper provides an update to previous efforts to understand the nature of the EML, while expanding previous information thanks in part to the existence of new freely accessible online databases showing patent status and participation in programs to provide access.

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Collaborations to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution

The need for the rapid development and global distribution of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection has spurred a number of novel collaborations between the pharmaceutical companies, research entities, and other stakeholders. These collaborations aim to ensure broad access to new health technologies to address the pandemic.

  • One example is the University of Oxford Jenner Institute vaccine candidate, developed with AstraZeneca, that included collaborations with Catalent Biologics (Italy), Symbiosis Pharmaceutical Services (UK), Oxford Biomedica (UK), Emergent BioSolutionsBioKangtai (China), and R-Pharm (Russia). Through the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, AstraZeneca signed an agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on vaccine development, manufacturing, and procurement, ensuring 300 million doses of the vaccine for low- and middle-income countries. Separately, AstraZeneca also signed a license agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply 1 billion doses of vaccine to low- and middle-income countries.
  • Another example involves Sanofi and GSK, which signed a Statement of Intent with Gavi, to make available 200 million doses of their adjuvanted recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, if approved by regulatory authorities.
  • A third example focuses on Johnson & Johnson.  The company has committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine to be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.
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